Bachelor group behavior of white-tailed deer can be fascinating during the summer months. I took the accompanying photo on Aug. 10 and it illustrates how bucks “buddy-up” during the lazy days of summer. During this time they will groom each other, and feed and bed together.
Though researchers have documented that bachelor groups can vary in size from two to 15 bucks, they typically include two to six. Though not always the case, the older, more aggressive bucks will generally be the “leaders of the pack.” Dominant bucks can keep subordinate deer in line during this time with little more than an eardrop, a hard look, or a snort-wheeze vocalization.
In areas with very healthy buck populations, two kinds of bachelor groups may form. If that is the case, one will be made up of young, yearling bucks. They will meet up with each other as they wander in search of new territory after their mothers push them away in the spring.
The other group would consist of mature bucks, though sometimes they may accept one or two yearlings. But most often the older bucks have a low tolerance of their younger counterparts.
Bachelor groups will break up once velvet-peel takes place and testosterone levels begin rising in late August and early September. Bucks become less tolerant of each other and will establish their own territories and travel patterns in preparation for breeding season. Summertime pals will soon be archrivals when it comes to the rut.
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